For the first time in the history of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament the term “March Madness” may officially be used. That is one step toward gender equity. Another was expanding the field to 68 teams. In one of those match-ups, Howard University defeated University of the Incarnate Word to move into the field of 64. That brought the Bison into the path of the number one seed in the Tournament, University of South Carolina, which decisively asserted its supremacy.
The lone New York/New Jersey team in the Big Dance, Princeton University, did a great job in extending its dance card when the Tigers upset Kentucky in the first round. The team’s run came to an end with a one-point loss to Indiana in the round of 32. There were several upsets, most notably Baylor and Oregon. Big East team Creighton caused some excitement with upset wins over both Colorado and Iowa to advance to the Sweet 16.
Of the local Division I teams playing in the WNIT, Stony Brook, Fordham and Fairleigh Dickinson all exited in the first round, while Seton Hall University and Columbia University have made it to the Sweet 16 and play tonight. Under the leadership of head coach Anthony Bozzella, now in his ninth year, Seton Hall has been a regular fixture in postseason, but this result is historic for Columbia and head coach Megan Griffith.
Players Abbey Hsu, Kaitlyn Davis and Jaida Patrick have all been stellar through the first two rounds of the WNIT. Hsu and Davis both played for Columbia in the 2019-20 season, but Patrick is new this season, having transferred from Duke. Patrick had a school record eight steals in the victory over Old Dominion.
“Jaida is fearless when she plays,” said Griffith. “I don’t think she’s ever looked at an opponent and was scared or nervous. That level of maturity is hard when you have a young team, but she has it and it was really good for her to step up to the challenge and make plays that she knew she could make, but also weren’t totally out of the box or gambling in situations. I feel the plays she was able to make were within how we were trying to game plan and execute defensively. She has a really good instinct. Jaida is still getting comfortable with our system. The more comfortable she gets, the more you’re going to see her perform like she did in [the ODU] game.”